The Ministry of Health (MoH)says about 55 percent of its budget is spent on treating cases resulting from poor sanitation and hygiene.
Speaking in Rumphi on Friday at an event organised to declare Traditional Authority (T/A) Chisovya’s area open defaecation free (ODF), MoH chief director Bestone Chisamile said if communities practised proper sanitation and hygiene, health facilities would cut their spending almost by half.
“Around 50 percent of diseases people present in hospitals border on hygiene and sanitation; hence, there is need for adequate hygiene and sanitation in the communities,” he said.
In his remarks, Rumphi District water development officer George Chingawale said access to sanitation has improved in the district.
“When we were just starting in October 2015, only 11 percent of people in the district had access to sanitation facilities, but now cases of diarrhoea have reduced drastically,” he said.
The prevalence of diarrhoea in the country is estimated at 17.5 percent, with 38 percent in children aged six to 12 months, according to data sourced from the ministry.
It is estimated that the number of episodes of acute diarrhoea in children under five years of age is over 13 million per year.
In the 2017/18 fiscal year, the ministry was allocated K129 billion, but a huge chunk of the budget goes towards salaries and recurrent costs, with only a smaller percentage allocated to medical supplies and expenses. n